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All Hands on Deck for !Permadeath

It’s morning and I’ve slid into my first cup of coffee and the second hour of my work day. It’s almost 10AM. A familiar notification appears at the top right of my screen, following that notification, I see a spinning card in the center. Words flow across the screen describing the experience to come. I’ve read them a million times, so I go to chat and type the first of many things I’ll type in chat that day: !ticket.

It’s time for !Permadeath with Wrigglemania.

Perma-what?

OK, let’s take this from the top and start with the man Steve Wrigley. This man has created a digital deck of cards and with them has created a unique experience with a couple of Bethesda titles. Namely, Skyim and Fallout 4. On each stream, viewers in chat collect a currency called “caps”. The caps are then spent in turn to play one of these cards from what is called the Permadeck. The effects of the cards are random and can give items, take away lives, spawn one or more creatures that can be friendly or deadly, even going so far as to control when Wrigglemania can or cannot save in game.

Each card is uniquely suited to the game he is playing, so in Skyrim you might spawn a horse, while in Fallout you may spawn an angry Deathclaw. As for lives, there is a limited number of them that viewers in chat can add or take away via the Permadeck system. When there are zero or fewer lives, the character is in !Permadeath. If a death occurs and there are no reserve lives on hand, this happens.

Which is to say, it’s hilarious and dramatic.

Those are the mechanics of this stream, but we would be remiss not to review what the flow of this system looks and feels like. What Wrigglemania has created in this is a unique, episodic experience. Bringing his experience with talk radio to the fore, he gives backgrounds to each character and adds to their lore based on the cards played by the viewers. As he goes through each stream, in addition to playing the game, he also has to be wary of the efforts among his viewers to either keep his characters alive or kill them by making certain kinds of plays or drawing cards and seeing what fortune comes from there.

This brings us to his community: the Deckheads.

The viewers that follow him are called the deckheads. As each viewer comes to the stream, they find themselves on the sides of helping, hindering, or just causing general mischief. This is the hidden gem of the stream; Wriggle’s storytelling, personality, and general antics in stream create a bond among the people that see his characters and interact with them. Long time viewers often find themselves created in the game as their own card which enhances an already rich experience by seeing yourself rendered as an NPC in the game who assists Wriggles or tries to kill him. Each team celebrates depending on how the day turns. Since characters – and the effects of the viewer interaction with that character – have a form of permanence, each consecutive stream has an episodic feel, leaving you want to see how each character’s advent turns out.

Each story requires investment from the viewers and that investment, plus the relationships, make this a wonderful experience for everyone involved down to the newest member. The overall community is warm, welcoming, and more than eager to bring anyone new into the overall adventure. The streams are anywhere from 4 to 6 hours long and are filled with moments like this one.

Or this one.

Or this beauty.

If you’re up for an adventure – especially one that is partly of your own making – I’ll see you tomorrow morning at 10AM.

Things We Learned in 2017

There may be seventeen things here, but likely not, that we learned and grew from in 2017 in PBR. Enjoy the list. Ninbinz, Marc, and Clare will likely make a post of their own reflections, so be on the lookout for those.

  1. You can’t make people better than they want to be. Believe me, we tried, but in some cases, people are not ready until they are ready. As cryptic as it sounds, there’s no better way to state it: you cannot make someone better than they themselves are willing to become. Period. You can certainly be a catalyst, but every person has to find their own spark.
  2. Talent is often hidden in plain sight. We’ve run into some amazingly talented people this year and have had the pleasure of working on various things with them. It always amazes me how talented people can show themselves to be given only a seed of faith and the right guidance.
  3. Charisma does not build an community. Character does. No matter how funny you may or may not be, at the end of the day, character is what lets you maintain what your charisma or talent attracts to you. The proof of that is everywhere.
  4. You have to do the work. There are some things you cannot outsource or automate. At some point, you have to just do the mundane things and take joy in what that mundane stuff will produce.
  5. Consistency is the size of one decision. If you want to build something that last, you have to make the same decision several times. That’s what consistency is. Making the same decisions, with little variation, over a long period of time.
  6. Rest is essential. Your offline time is just as important as your streaming time, networking time, and every thing else. Unhealthy minds and emotions make for unhealthy communities and poor streaming experiences. Just don’t.
  7. Choose. Any choice will do, but make a choice. Make an honest one.
  8. Say no more often. Some things aren’t worth your time. When you run into those things, say no. No one will die. The world will continue to turn. You don’t have to feel guilty about it.
  9. Say yes more often. You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for and it is worth exploring the breadth of that capability, then expanding.
  10. You don’t get what you can’t articulate. Learn to be clear about what you want and need. Practice communicating that to others in a concise way.
  11. We have the internet we build. If you’re nothing but memes, you will find the internet becomes such a place. Imagine what we could be if we did better? That will be what PBR explores as long as it exists, but with that exploration comes the knowledge that, if we want something, we have to build it with our own hands.
  12. The truth is always best. Always. We’ve heard many reasons for not speaking the truth this year and the consequences have never been worth it. Conversely, the moments when we have spoken the truth even while afraid have always been healing for all parties involved.
  13. This is the 13th item on this list.
  14. The way forward is not the way you came. The future is in the places you haven’t been with people you picked up along the way. That’s your tribe and who you are moving forward with. Be good to each other and brook no nonsense.
  15. Your inner circle is either your rise or your fall. The people that you keep closest to you are going to be your limit in many respects. Keep an eye on your circle and be ready to make adjustments to keep things moving forward and keep yourself the best you that you can be.

I think that’s about all for this post. See you in 2018.

Giving As Introduction

For those who know me, I’m Mr. Savage or Synxiec or a more normal human name, but beyond all of that, I’m also part of Project PBR. If you’re reading this post, it will mean that this website – one of a few things I’m responsible for here – has successfully launched after several months in the making.

Those who are aware of PBR come from a myriad of places, but lately it’s been streams where myself, Ninbinz, or Cakten have appeared just before something happens.

Like a donation.

Or bits.

I believe that the best thing to do when you want to get something is to give first and so I’ve spent most of 2017 doing that. The thing I hope to get from what I’m getting is a better internet, better gaming community, and a network of people that are going to push each other toward greatness in whatever form it takes now and evolves into in the future. So when you see us – individually or under the banner of PBR – know that we’re here to give to the giving and we will continue to be that.

It’s nice to meet you.

Why I Love To Play Gigantic

Hi! I’m back at it again with this blog thing that I do. Today I’m going to talk about a little game known as Gigantic by Motiga and I’m in love with it.

During production the game had a little trouble, the designers had to adapt to some of Microsoft’s new systems and they weren’t quite prepared for the amount of work involved in doing that.

I’ve played the game for a long time. I managed to get into one of its earliest betas after snagging a code from a streamer: TombleroneTV. My first forays into the realms of Gigantic were a mixed bag, obvious bugs and other such set backs made playing the game hard but play the game I did.

I had fun, character mechanics and the momentum driven gameplay came to me rather quickly, by no stretch was I good at the game but I understood it. There are two guardians that represent the opposing 5v5 teams, the objective being to gather power from the defeat of your enemies and collecting power from nodes placed about the map. You can summon creatures to gather power from the nodes and to protect them from your enemies. Strategic placement of creatures is key since their defeat means more power for the opposing team. Simplicity itself.

Its development and gameplay aside, I have to say that the thin ribbon of narrative that occurs throughout the game is minuscule but interesting. There are hints to backstories, the language describes the characters well enough for you to understand their personalities if not their goals. Additionally the small snippets of lore create an alluring aroma of mystery, there is more there and I want to know what it is. I want to know more about Tyto The Swift and why she only has one arm. I want to see how Mozu stole her wands and I want to know what dark reason Xenobia has to seek out dark powers.

Some might say the art style of Gigantic is cartoony, for me, that means charming. I have so many great memories of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Gigantic takes me back to the earliest iterations of Transformers, shows like the Visionaries or Dinosaucers from the 80’s. Bright and vibrant and unique, Gigantic’s art style lends its characters depth, nuance and variety.

Mechanics! Mechanics! Games like this are all about mechanics! and this game does them well. You have a few abilities at your disposal, each of them is tailored to each individual character in purpose and theme. Gigantic employs a progression tree system, as your characters level up by gaining experience points from defeating your enemies and their summoned creatures you gain access to a progression tree that has two tiers for every individual ability. I would explain to you how this works but the game is free to play, is only a trifle to download through steam, Arc or the Microsoft store.

I want you to play this game and learn it for yourself, I’m just trying to explain why I like it so much. All of the things I’ve talked about mesh together to create a deep, unique and rewarding experience. I understand that there is very little here but I’d hate for you to experience this game with my bias everywhere. Play the game use the intuitive tarot card system to foster a sense of reward and achievement and play a game or two with or against me.

Have yourselves a great day.

 

 

 

Your Free Roll20 Primer

Congratulations! You’ve been deemed worth of joining a campaign from one of these PBR people that likely follows D&D 5e rather closely. You get a free primer on what’s happening with this whole Roll20 thing.

CHARACTER STUFF

Character choices here are relatively straightforward, but require some level of thinking. You have six stats you’ll need to consider and 32 points to spend between them. Aside from those basic considerations, you’ll also want to make sure at some point to write a character background that explains, at the minimum:

  • Why are you where you are? Do you live there? Did you transfer? Are you a roaming hobo? Etc.
  • What does your character do in his spare time?
  • What aspirations does your character have? If none, why not?

What you include, or don’t, in your background has an impact on the game. Your DM/GM will review and approve things after you are done writing. The idea is to make sure your character is sufficiently justified for whatever things they do. Personally, I prefer to think of my character as a whole and build around things like their class, their occupation, and background.

 

ABOUT ROLL 20

This will be the system you are going to use to handle your character sheet and notes. Your character will start with 9 points in each stat. You then have an additional 32 points to distribute among those stats. Use the Player’s Handbook (PHB) and whatever other materials you have to determine where best to spend those points.

Your background will go into your character sheet. Let’s have a quick review of how that works.

When you come into the game, you’ll see this:

The purple item is the chat log, the orange is the journal section where you’ll find information the DM leaves you about the game, the area in blue is for information on spells and such. You will spend most of your time in the chat log and character sheet areas. In addition, there is a large area for showing things like maps or other things the DM wants you to see. Battles and everything else happen in this area.

Clicking on this journal tab (that’s the orange thing) would show you this panel on the right. Things like special notes or characters you’ve encountered or other players you meet will be in this area. Clicking on your name will open a popup window. You should be able to read the words here, but your background goes in the Bio section. Your character stat info and other special abilities go in the character sheet area. To edit the Bio, click edit at the top right.

Now let’s take a look at the character sheet:

Lots of info goes here. Those 32 points you need to distribute go in the orange section. For reminder: those points are added to the pre-existing 9 points in each of those stats. The blue section I’ve highlighted here is for Saving throw proficiencies. Every class has two. Make sure to check off the two that apply to your character class. All of the other numbers on this page are auto-calculated, so don’t bother too much there.

Of the class choices you have, three are custom classes which means that a lot of information may have to be typed in. If you pick sorceror, there is a button that lets you say “hey, I’m a sorceror” and it will fill things out for you.

 

LAST WORDS

If you need help, ask. If you have questions, ask. You will need to make a choice about a few things that affect the game. This choice are only somewhat important and determine how I bring you into the world (the rest will be up to you): are you working for the “good” faction, the “bad” faction, or do you want to go through the effort of making those choices on your own in-game?

If I have asked a question of any kind, please respond in writing. This should be fun all around. If you don’t have it yet, please make sure you get an account on Discord (it’s free) as the dialog will likely be happening there when characters are talking to each other.

 

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